DOL Collects Millions due to Oilfield Overtime Violations

The U.S. Department of Labor’s (“DOL”) Wage and Hour division recently launched an enforcement initiative covering New Mexico and West Texas that has led to 1,300 oilfield workers recovering more than $1.3 million in unpaid wages and overtime. Former and current oilfield workers are frequently owed wages and overtime when their oil and gas employers:

  • Misclassify oilfield employees as independent contractors (1099) rather than employees (W-2) to avoid overtime payments
  • Misclassify oilfield employees as overtime exempt under the Motor Carrier Exemption
  • Fail to include bonus payments in overtime calculations
  • Fail to pay for off-the-clock time
  • Pay exclusively a day rate
  • Fail to pay time and a half for overtime (all hours worked over 40 in a workweek)

While the DOL recovers unpaid wages for oilfield workers, the vast majority of unpaid wages are recovered through private lawsuits. Our firm handles these private FLSA lawsuits and can assess your claim. We take cases on contingency, meaning you owe nothing if we make you nothing. We only get paid for getting the wages you deserve.

If your oil and gas employer has failed to comply with federal law, you are likely due a large amount of wages and overtime. In order to figure out how much, call (214) 790-4454 or email our firm regarding your claim.

Causes of Oilfield Overtime Violations

Dr. David Weil, administrator for the DOL’s wage and hour division, explained that complicated contracting relationships and basic corporate greed have caused rampant oilfield overtime violations:

The oil and gas industry is emblematic of the modern, fissured workplace where contracting and subcontracting have obscured the traditional relationship between employer and employee. The more layers between the primary corporation and its many subcontractors, the more likely there will be wage and other labor violations as businesses seek to lower labor costs and maximize profit margins. Workers get pinched when they are denied wages, benefits and safe working conditions to which they are legally entitled. We are working to ensure that workers receive a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.

DOL Identifies Most Common Oilfield Overtime Violations

The DOL-led initiative found oilfield overtime violations caused by numerous oilfield employer practices, including:

  • Misapplying overtime exemptions
  • Failing to include bonus payments when calculating overtime rates
  • Not paying for time spent working off-the-clock
  • Not paying for time before and after scheduled work shifts
  • Paying flat daily shit rates without regard to how many hours the employees worked
  • Failing to pay additional compensation for overtime

Education of Oilfield Workers Would Improve Oilfield Overtime Compliance

Regional Administrator for the Wage and Hour’s Southwest Region provided that oilfield worker misconceptions regarding overtime wages allows oilfield employers to get away with violating federal overtime law:

There is a misconception in the industry that—because workers typically earn more than minimum wage—they are being paid legally. That is not always the case. You can’t pay a flat day rate with no regard for hours worked, misclassify employees as independent contractors or make deals with employees that violate labor laws.

Companies Held Responsible for Oilfield Overtime Violations

Recent investigations of oilfield overtime violations have uncovered the following companies violated overtime law:

  • Desta Drilling GP LLC: Investigators found $317,846 worth of oilfield overtime and wage violations owed to 449 employees and that the company failed to take into account bonuses in calculating driller’s overtime wages.
  • Acme Energy Services Inc.: Investigators found that 552 oilfield employees were due $143,055 for oilfield overtime and wage violations. The investigation revealed the overtime violations when the employer failed to pay employee for required pre-shift job and safety meetings.
  • Got Safety: Investigators uncovered $74,666 in oilfield overtime and wage violations due to 37 employees working in New Mexico and West Texas. Violations resulted from misclassification of salaried employees as exempt from overtime, despite their duties not qualifying them for an overtime exemption.

Texas Oilfield Overtime Violation Lawyer

The Fair Labor Standards Act requires oilfield employers to pay covered, non-exempt employees time and a half their regular rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of 40 in a workweek. The Act also requires oilfield employers to keep accurate payroll and time records. If you feel as though your employer has failed to pay you oilfield overtime in compliance with federal law, give us a call at (214) 790-4454 or fill out the contact form below for a free consultation.

Jack Siegel is the Dallas employment attorney responsible for this website.
The Siegel Law Group’s principal place of business in Dallas. We gladly serve oilfield workers in West Texas, Midland, the Permian Basin, Odessa and the Eagle Ford shale.